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A.G. Schneiderman, Fellow AGs To Congress: Protect Long-Time U.S. Residents From Haiti And El Salvador

Following Trump Administration’s Decision to Terminate Temporary Protected Status for Haiti and El Salvador, Coalition of 19 AGs Urges Congress to Shield TPS Recipients from Deportation

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently joined a coalition of 19 Attorneys General in calling on congressional leaders to protect long-time U.S. residents from being forced to return to dangerous conditions in countries impacted by natural disasters and other dangerous conditions. In a letter to Congress, the Attorneys General urge officials to pass a bill allowing recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from Haiti, El Salvador, and other nations to upgrade to permanent resident status. The letter follows the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate TPS designations for Haiti and El Salvador natives in 2019.

“Long-time New Yorkers from Haiti and El Salvador enrich our economy and strengthen our communities,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Yet the Trump Administration is stripping away protective status from our vulnerable neighbors, jeopardizing their safety and wellbeing. If the Trump administration refuses to protect these families, then we need Congress to act.”

The federal TPS program offers temporary lawful status to foreign nationals in the United States from countries experiencing armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary conditions that temporarily prevent their safe return. The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a particular country for TPS for periods of six to 18 months and can extend these periods if conditions do not improve sufficiently in the designated country.

In 2001, El Salvadorians were granted TPS status following a series of natural disasters and ensuing economic and political crises. In January 2010, Haitians were granted TPS status in the wake an earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti and devastated the nation’s already-fragile economy, infrastructure, government, and health system. The designations have been renewed regularly for both groups because previous presidential administrations have found the countries could not ensure sufficient safety for returning nationals.

However, under the Trump Administration, the Department of Homeland Security decided to terminate TPS designations for Haiti and El Salvador. According to the Governor’s office, 16,200 Salvadorans living in New York will be impacted by the federal government’s decision. According to the Center for Migration Studies, approximately 5,200 Haitians living in New York will be affected.

Each of the states whose attorney general joined the letter is home to thousands of people who were not able to return to their home countries because of natural disasters or armed conflicts. Over the intervening years and decades, these foreign nationals have become integral members of their communities, having bought homes, started businesses, married, and had children who are U.S. citizens.

“The thousands of TPS beneficiaries who reside in our states are long-time residents who have made substantial contributions to our communities and economies,” the letter notes, adding that TPS beneficiaries have more than 275,000 U.S.-born children and contribute more than $4.5 billion to the United States’ gross domestic product.

The termination of TPS for these nations will put hundreds of thousands of people in the difficult position of choosing whether to return to their countries of origin, with or without their children, when their home countries may not be in the position to receive them.

The coalition of Attorneys General that signed this letter was led by the District of Columbia and includes the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.